Finally, we need to explain why the students did or could not simultaneously manage their everyday genres with the educational genres. We propose two possible explanations, in terms of difficulties in relating to each other while relating to the educational task.
The first refers to the ‘distance’ between everyday and educational genres, depending on the social milieux of students. With students for whom in- and out-of-school genres are very different, as is the case with those who have appropriated wesh-wesh culture, the problem of discursive articulation is more acute. It would seem that in this case, the students in our study did not accomplish this discursive balancing act: they fell down on the side of preserving their interpersonal relations and everyday ways of speaking to each other.
The second (related) reason why students might not have been able to mix their everyday discourse with the school-prescribed one in their autonomous interactions relates to the general social structure of the classroom, which can also be invoked in explaining the final degeneration into violence during the last phase of our study. The students who had created extra logons and crept into other groups’ chat rooms, to proffer insults and delete other students’ work, belonged to the group of three older boys in the class (see the ‘participants’ section above). These three boys had stated that they could not debate because they were ‘bad students! [laughs]’. From participant observation and review meetings with the teacher, it emerged that these three boys were the ‘bosses’ of the class (or rather, one ‘boss’ with his two ‘assistants’). Whenever other students spoke in the class, in a way that complied with the teacher, the ‘boss’ students silenced them with threat, mockery, or sarcasm. It is therefore possible that many students did not dare to speak the educational genre to each other because of the structure of power and domi- nance in the group class. In creating small autonomous groups of students, this might have allowed some students to escape the power of the bosses, which could also relate to the social identities of the boss-students as ‘bad students’: either by con- firming those identities (in the case where other stu- dents were allowed to succeed in the educational task) or else by threatening them, in the case where the bosses found themselves (‘despite themselves’) succeeding in the task (how could ‘bad’ students succeed?).